After an hour and 20 minutes of testimony and debate, Broward Legislative Delegation votes to move forward with proposed school safety tax.
The measure now moves to Tallahassee.
In the midst of heavy lobbying, the Broward Legislative Delegation took up the proposal from state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, to allow the county's voters to establish a school safety tax in Broward County.
The 2 p.m. session started late as lawmakers waited for the end of a discussion involving Sobel, who is chairwoman of the legislative delegation, state Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, the vice chairman of the delegation, and School Superintendent Robert Runcie.
During that discussion, Sobel said at one point, "That is not true. That is not true."
Sobel said Runcie told her he supports the legislation. Other legislators said Runcie's lobbying team has been attempting to convince lawmakers to vote against Sobel's proposal.
Sobel has was being peppered with questions by state Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach, who huddled with Runcie shortly before the hearing convened.
Runcie said he supported the concept but just made it clear he doesn't like the contents of the bill. Among his objections is that money wouldn't start flowing until after the August 2014 primary -- assuming voters approve the tax increase. He wants more money from the state now.
He complained that he and his staff haven't had time to work on details with Sobel or the legislative delegation.
That comment drew a rebuke from state Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation. She said Runcie's lead lobbyist has frequently visited her office and hasn't attempted to engage in any discussion on the issue.
"I don’t appreciate that approach to lobbying. And I don’t like being pitted against other delegation memners," Edwards said.
Sobel, a former School Board member, said the agency “has not done enough and it’s a little bit too late.”
Runcie disagreed, arguing that student safety “is the No. 1 priority for us.”
But state Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Parkland, a former member of the City Commission, said the School Board has dragged its feet on school security, and waiting more time for further discussions on the bill isn’t necessary. “They have egg on their face at the moment because they weren’t planning on this being an issue,” he said. “Now they’re pounding the table. For years they were punting to the cities.”
State Rep. George Moraitis, R-Fort Lauderdale, asked Runcie about the part of the legislation that would create a new government agency to oversee the school safety money.
Runcie didn't answer his question except to repeat he wants time to work on the details of the legislation.
Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan, who is involved with League of Cities efforts to deal with school safety officer issue, endorses legislation.
At 3:26 p.m., the discussion of the school safety tax hit the 60 minute mark. Runcie stepped outside to do a TV interview -- then left the meeting w/out waiting to see the outcome.
National representative of civil rights group advancement project tells legislators that adding more cops in schools aren't the way to solve violence problem.
The result, said Alana Greer, an advancement project attorney, is that any added cops would result in the arrests of more Hispanic kids and more young black males. Not a good outcome, she said. She says Broward leads the state in student arrests.Copyright © 2015, South Florida